Prisoner Charles DOWNES

Prisoner Charles Downes, photograph by T. J. NEVIN

Prisoner Charles Downes
Original print by Thomas J. Nevin 1874
Displayed in one of three panels for exhibition by Beattie & Searle 1916
Downes' print is second row, second from right.

Forty prints of 1870s Tasmania prisoners in three panels
Original prints of negatives by T. J. Nevin 1870s
Reprints by J. W. Beattie ca. 1915
QVMAG Collection: Ref : 1983_p_0163-0176

Print cleaned up, QVMAG reprint of Nevin's negative 1980s
 QVMAG  Registration No: QVM:1985:P:0161

Below: Prisoner Charles Downes, photograph by T. J. NEVIN

[Above]: from NLA Catalogue online
Title Charles Dawnes [sic], per Rodney 2, taken at Port Arthur, 1874 [picture]
Creator: Nevin, Thomas
Ref: PIC P1029/6 LOC Album 935
NB: Incorrect information on the NLA notes; surname was DOWNES.

Charles Downes was photographed by T. J. Nevin at the Hobart Gaol before reprieve of a life sentence in May 1875.

See this article: Carnal Knowledge of Children: convictions 1860s-1880s

A copy of the QVMAG mounted cdv print is held at the Archives Office of Tasmania, bearing the same number, 44 on front. The NLA cdv has no number on front.:


The Mercury 15 February 1872
Charles Downes was found guilty on a charge of feloniously assaulting Dorothy Smith, aged 9 years, in Stacey’s revolving circus in the Queen’s Domain, and remanded for sentence.


Charles Downes' death sentence was reprieved to life imprisonment in May 1975.

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Below each image held at the National Library of Australia is their catalogue batch edit which gives the false impression that all these "convict portraits" were taken because these men were transported convicts per se (i.e before cessation in 1853), and that they might have been photographed as a one-off amateur portfolio by a prison official at the Port Arthur prison in 1874, which they were not. Any reference to the Port Arthur prison official A. H. Boyd on the NLA catalogue records is an error, a PARASITIC ATTRIBUTION with no basis in fact. The men in these images were photographed in the 1870s-1880s because they were repeatedly sentenced as habitual offenders whose mugshots were taken on arrest, trial, arraignment, incarceration and/or discharge by government contractor, police and prisons photographer T. J. Nevin at the Supreme Court and adjoining Hobart Gaol with his brother Constable John Nevin, and at the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall when appearing at The Mayor's Court. The Nevin brothers photographed more than 2000 prisoners, the bulk now lost or destroyed. These extant mugshots were the random estrays salvaged - and reproduced in many instances- for sale at Beattie's local convictaria museum in Hobart and at interstate exhibitions associated with the fake convict ship Success in the early 1900s. The mugshots were selected on the basis of the prisoner's notoriety from the Supreme Court trial registers (Rough Calendar), the Habitual Criminals Registers (Gaol Photo Books), warrant forms, and police gazettes records of the 1870s-1880s. The earliest taken on government contract by T. J. Nevin date from 1872. The police records sourced here are from the weekly police gazettes which were called (until 1884) Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police 1871-1885. J. Barnard, Gov't Printer.